The Potter phenomenon

by Harinder Singh Bedi

Succumbing to the pressure of the family youngsters, we went to see the latest Harry Potter (HP) film — actually it didn’t take too much pressure as I am a fan of HP! The eight film in the series and the 2nd part of the finale was an exhilarating, action-packed spectacle that delivered a magnificent finish.

It was a special delight for me as my son is about HP’s age and I can relate to the growing up problems and confusion that children of today have to face. The story is both simple and complex. It is an epic showdown between good and evil. And what a showdown it is — tense, thrilling, breathtaking and deserves any superlative you can think of. Harry, Ron and Hermione are working to destroy Voldemort’s (the bad guy) lifelines. They believe the next one is hidden away in a bank vault in Gringotts — the wizarding bank. The opening sequence of the entry in the vault in a high-speed roller-coaster is exhilarating. The complex mode of entry made me think that perhaps this is why it is so difficult for the Indian government to approach the Swiss banks to get our black money back from there!

The vision of chaotic frenetically replicating goblets and napkin rings in the vault (my son’s room is like that!) and a stunning Ukrainian dragon ride that takes us from the bowels of the earth to the heavens above in seconds is superb. Then one moves onwards next to Hogwarts (the school) to look for the other lifelines. But Hogwarts has changed. Snape (another bad guy who starts as a good guy in the first set of movies — bad because of a vow,which cannot be broken!) is the new headmaster as he has killed the old one. But there are many things that Harry doesn’t know, the ultimate secret being the one that revolves around his very being. Dan Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson have done the impossible here. They are possibly the only set of actors that one has seen grow up on the big screen and as the actors grew up on a personal level, they added their maturity to their characters. The nerdy children have grown up to be confident young men and women — just as my son and my nieces and nephews have become. Alan Rickman and thespian Dame Maggie Smith as Snape and Professor McGonagall, respectively, gave their all in this movie.

Rickman has a part of the movie entirely dedicated to his character’s personal story. It is also one of my favourite parts of the book — did I tell you that you must read the books (all seven) to really understand the film. However, I digress — Professor McGonagall stands up for Harry and when she does, the whole theatre will explode in applause. Maggie Smith fortifying Hogwarts with concrete knights who jump off the castle at her command — and then cracking a joke to lighten up the mood… just the way I like it! The movie has some Indian angles too — one of the child actresses is an Indian called Miss Patel (there used to be two — I wonder where the other one has gone). There was also a fleeting shot of a Sikh wizard in an earlier episode (the half-blood Prince) and then there is a snake called ‘Nagini’.

And yes — the best part — at the end they show a middle- aged HP and friends. And lo and behold, even the wizards have a paunch that makes me — a mere Muggle (a non-magician) — feel real good!

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